Southern road trip - FL/NC/TN/MS/LA

Old Oct 5th, 2009, 07:35 AM
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Southern road trip - FL/NC/TN/MS/LA

Our youngest son is going to a camp in NC this summer, so we're thinking about picking him up and then doing a loop through the south - visiting places we're lived or have ties to that the boys have never seen or don't remember. We would start in Florida, pick Rob up about 3 hours east of Chattanooga, then stop in Chattanooga (see the Delta Queen steamship which is now a hotel there), Nashville, Tupelo MS, Jackson MS, New Orleans, then drive back to Bradenton FL. We know what we want to do/see in most of the places, but what about things to do along the way? The boys are 17, 19, and 21 - we like outdoor things, architecture, history, weird roadside attractions, and barbecue. We haven't been back to Nashville for a LONG time. We want to go to the Narrows, Percy Warner Park, Belle Meade, Rotiers, and Belle Meade Motel, Vandy, the Parthenon - what else would you suggest for teenagers? We're debating a downtown hotel vs less expensive. Also, we want to break up that loooong and boring I-10 drive - what would be a good stop?
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Old Oct 5th, 2009, 07:59 AM
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Mmm, Rotiers.

How long will you be in Nashville? Since you're into outdoorsy things, you might check out Radnor Lake in addition to the Warner parks (which are also great). Radnor is a state park completely within Davidson County (metro Nashville). Depending on when in the summer you're here, the lake itself may have tons of algae, but if you're here earlier in the summer it could be nice. It's a great place to do a little easy hiking even if the lake isn't at its best. Cheekwood is also great for an afternoon - it's botanical gardens and an art museum in the Belle Meade area.

Depending on how everyone feels about it, you might check out what shows are playing while you're here. Most of the bars and clubs are 18+, but Rocketown is an all-ages venue downtown that has some good acts come through. I'd see almost anybody at the Ryman Auditorium (which is all ages). It's known as the Mother Church of country music, but it's a fantastic venue to see anyone - I just saw Snow Patrol there last week. You might also check out the Bluebird; I'm not sure what its age restrictions are, but it's a renowned venue in Green Hills.

For barbecue, Jack's BBQ is on Lower Broadway in front of the Ryman, but there's also Hog Heaven next to Centennial Park (the Parthenon) and several branches of Whitt's around town. There's a Corky's in Brentwood. Baja Burrito (in Berry Hill) and Fido (in Hillsboro Village, near Vandy) are also great, inexpensive places to eat. McDougal's is also near Vandy - they're known for chicken strips and fries, so if that's your thing I'd definitely stop there. The food's a little heavy for me (I mean... it's chicken strips and fries), but the sauce is really good and it's kind of an institution. The Loveless Cafe might be a fun stop on your way out of town to Mississippi - it's on Highway 100 right next to the Natchez Trace Parkway.

One option that may or may not work for you: the Nash Trash bus tour has gotten good reviews, though I haven't taken it yet myself. I've heard it's "rated PG-13", just as a heads up. It's basically two women who narrate a bus tour around town with entertaining commentary. They're supposed to be pretty funny.

As far as hotels - you'll need a car to get everywhere you want to be anyway, so I don't think staying in a suburb would be a bad idea if the prices are that much cheaper. However, some of the suburbs would be more convenient than others. Are there particular places you're looking at?
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Old Oct 5th, 2009, 11:00 AM
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Lots of info - thanks! We would mainly concentrate on the Vandy/West End area with detours for downtown and parks - DH and I went to Vandy, and then lived a little further out West End for another 5 years. We've only been back one time and that was 20+ years ago (talk about making me feel old!), so I know it must have really changed. I didn't know Ryman Auditorium was being used - that would be fun. Is Tootsie's Orchid Lounge or the Bluegrass Inn still going? We went to the Bluebird when it first opened - is was nice and really fun, but a bit rowdy? Or maybe it was just that we were rowdy! There used to be a car ferry - Judge Hickman, maybe - that you could talk across the river - maybe north of the city? It's been a long time and directions are not my strong point. We used to take it to a small town (perhaps swallowed by N'ville by now) that had a couple of restaurants that specialized in fried catfish and fried rabbit. Oh, and the Window Cliffs - not sure where they were - only went once and I didn't drive - any idea where that might be?
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Old Oct 5th, 2009, 01:21 PM
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Is there a particular reason you want to stop in Jackson? There are more interesting places in MS with more cultural and historical sites.
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Old Oct 5th, 2009, 01:39 PM
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Hmm... I don't know anything about a ferry, but maybe Google will help there! Same with the Window Cliffs. The Bluebird is actually one of the least rowdy places around - from what I've heard they're pretty strict on not talking during performances, that sort of thing (which is pretty much the opposite of most other places in town). Not sure if it's always been that way. The Ryman almost got torn down several years ago, from what I've heard (I moved here about four years ago so I'm fuzzy on the details), but it is most definitely in use and probably my favorite venue to hear anyone. It's small enough to be really intimate; there's really not a bad seat, unless you get stuck in the back of the main floor behind a pole!

Tootsie's is definitely still around; it, Robert's and the Stage are all on Lower Broad. Do you mean Layla's? It still is, too (actually the Snow Patrol guys talked about it at the show last week!). Station Inn is also still around and a good place to hear bluegrass, although the area surrounding it has definitely changed in the past 5 years. 12th Avenue in that area is now "The Gulch" and has several condo buildings, restaurants and Urban Outfitters.

If you want to stay around Vandy, I know there's a Hampton Inn close by that may not be too expensive. There are a lot of nice hotels around the area, but a few HI-level as well. Hillsboro Village has probably changed some since you were here; it's a great area to spend an afternoon wandering around.
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Old Oct 5th, 2009, 02:03 PM
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Take the Natchez Trace Parkway for part of the trip, nice places to stop, historic markers, part of the old trace, no gas or fast food so tank up before you go.
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Old Oct 6th, 2009, 09:37 AM
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We are taking the lower part of the Trace - guess I was thinking of the towns we wanted to see when I mapped out our trip so didn't mention it. I can't imagine what N'ville must be like by now - we left in1985 and went back two years later and the changes were amazing. I'm glad all those places are still going - I can't wait to hear some music. I did figure out where the Window Cliffs are - Putnam county. I even came across Window Cliffs Road - maybe google earch will help. Hillsboro Village was all hippie shops and Indian print bedspreads and that incredible pancake place - maybe a rib place. Hampton Inn sounds good - I'll check that out.
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Old Oct 6th, 2009, 11:41 AM
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Well, the incredible pancake place is still there for sure (long lines on the weekends, but it moves fast). The rest has restaurants (Fido, Sunset Grill, Cabana, Jackson's, McDougal's, Savarino's, Zumi [new sushi place I haven't tried], there's a Smoothie King and maybe one or two others I'm forgetting, plus Pizza Perfect and Cuisine of India up closer to Vanderbilt); shops (probably a little heavy on the women's shops for your boys, but if you're interested there are some fun ones); a good used bookstore and several other stores. The Belcourt Theater is also there; it shows indie films, usually, but is also a great concert venue. There's also SATCO further up the street; I'm not sure if that was here when you were at Vandy. It's got a fun atmosphere but the food (in my humble opinion) is not great. But it's popular with Vandy students for sure.
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Old Oct 6th, 2009, 01:19 PM
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Bellhouse, one thing that has changed about Nashville (besides having major league football and hockey now) is that the X-rated places that used to be on lower Broad downtown have been replaced by more family-friendly (at least if you have older children like you do) places -- non-X-rated honky-tonks, etc. A stroll down Broadway on a Friday or Saturday night should be fun for your boys. On nights the Predators are playing, or there's a good concert at the Sommet Center, or something at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, it can even be crowded.

the "Gulch" area alluded to earlier is completely new since you were here. It's a younger crowd, urban, affluent....hip restaurants, that sort of thing.

Rotiers, bless its heart, hasn't changed on iota. If you left gum under a table while at Vandy, it's probably still there.

A tour of Vandy's new freshman Commons area would be interesting for you, I think.

The Hermitage Hotel downtown was completely redone and is splendid. It's worth popping into to see the lobby. Pricey to stay there, but they are suites and it is very nice.

The Hutton Hotel is relatively new and hip and is located on West End between downtown and Vanderbilt. Don't know the prices, but I'll bet your boys would like it. The restaurant is good.

Have a great trip.


There's a
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 10:48 AM
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The Hermitage - that's the old one that was redone in the late '70s? Or maybe it's just that by then we were working and could afford to go there for brunch when friends came into town.....Didn't they turn an old building - maybe a railroad station - into a downtown hotel? It sounds like lower Broadway would be fun - and we do want to hear some music. That was one of the greatest things about living there - eveything from Grateful Dead and such at Vandy to country and bluegrass to up-and-coming people at the Bluebird. I'll check prices on the Hutton Hotel - thanks. The Hermitage would be fun if we were on our own, but I'm not wasting it on teenage boys!
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 11:08 AM
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I think you may be thinking of Union Station? I don't think the Hermitage was ever a railway station, but Union Station definitely was. It's now a nice hotel next to the Frist Center on Broadway.
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Old Oct 10th, 2009, 09:19 AM
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Union Station - that's it! Thanks. How does it compare to the Hermitage - not that we would stay either place - just wondered.
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Old Oct 11th, 2009, 01:46 PM
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Wow! Just checked Ryman Auditorium's upcoming shows! We might plan which camp session Rob goes to just so we can catch a good show!
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Old Oct 11th, 2009, 05:48 PM
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You know, I'm really not sure - I haven't been inside either. My guess is that the Hermitage is nicer, but that really is just a guess (based on location and the fact that Union Station hotel is atop a building with a few other establishments, like the Flying Saucer, rather than a building unto itself). But someone who's actually stayed at either would be able to give you more information. I do know that the Hermitage men's restroom is consistently ranked one of the top in the country!

And yep - the Ryman is great. They have a huge variety of artists come through - I'm not sure when they'll be booking acts for next summer (some seem to get booked months in advance, others just weeks - I'm sure it's a lot to do with the industry), but it's definitely worth trying to get to a show. They may be doing the Tuesday night bluegrass series when you're here, if that's something that interests you; they do that every summer.
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Old Oct 12th, 2009, 08:05 AM
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LOL - how does one rate men's restrooms?
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Old Oct 12th, 2009, 08:37 AM
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I wouldn't know from personal experience , but apparently on "exceptional hygiene, style and open access to the public"!

http://www.thehermitagehotel.com/sit...il.aspx?cid=95
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Old Oct 12th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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It's an art deco, mint green with black accents, bathroom. You can probably google a photo.

I have stayed in the Hermitage hotel and it was great -- just me and my husband. Romantic. If with children, I would choose a different hotel. I've seen the rooms at the Union Station -- on the small side. It's the lobby at Union Station that's fabulous. Outside of Downtown or Midtown, if you want a basic, clean, decently priced hotel look at the Hampton Inn and Suites on Crestmoor in Green Hills. 2324 Crestmoor Road, Nashville, Tennessee, USA 37215
Tel: +1-615-777-0001. Location is accessible to everywhere you'll want to go, and extremely close to Green Hills Mall, the only decent mall in Nashville. It has changed a LOT since you remember it -- even has a Tiffany's. There are sports bars in the vicinty, good for teen sons.

The Bluebird is still an excellent venue for catching good songwriters. It is still small, and they ask patrons to be very quiet, refrain from talking, and focus on the music.

A good concert at the Ryman is a delight.

Have a great trip.
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Old Oct 12th, 2009, 10:55 AM
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Just one word of caution - Green Hills is accessible, but the traffic in that area can be terrible, especially at rush hour. You'll be fine if you end up there, but I might look at other hotels nearer to Broadway/West End first. Or just structure your schedule so you're not driving around rush hour (which may make you happier regardless of where you stay!).
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Old Oct 12th, 2009, 11:10 AM
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http://www.bestrestroom.com/fame_hermitage.html

MY!
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Old Oct 12th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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Don't know if you are accustomed to road trips with your almost-adult kids, but some non-specific to location tips that have worked for us (our babies are now 19 and 23 and this is first year they have not both travelled with us)

Hotel location - does not matter as much as TV, internet access, cell phone service and big comfortable beds - as well as sleeping later than one might think reasonable for a road trip. We find the latter particularly annoying - but worth family harmony on the trip to not drag them out of bed at 7AM, force them to the hotel breakfast, and stuff them into the car. Plan on fewer miles, later stops, and try to find something for them to do in the evening when you want to relax and they are just waking up.

Bring, buy a cooler and load it with sodas, sports drinks - whatever they like as well as pack the car with some hideous-to-adults snacks of their preference. It will take them a few hours to realize they are not on the sofa.

Let them play horrible music on the radio - or be prepared to turn it off and have 3 kids plugged into their iPods.

Give them some guidebooks or bring a laptop and let them decide where many of the meals will be - surprisingly, our kids are more adventuresome than us on the road sometimes and we have had some really good meals in unlikely settings.

Be prepared that they will not likely plan ahead as far in advance as normal people - so accept "let's stop there" even if it is not on the list.
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